LLANELLI – Free State Cheetahs fullback Clayton Blommetjies is the latest South African player to set his sights of playing Test rugby for another country.
Blommetjies recently signed for Welsh Pro14 outfit Scarlets and in an interview over the weekend, the star fullback told WalesOnLine that he is has ambitions to play Test rugby for Wales after he felt snubbed by the Springboks.
Blommetjies, 27, hails from Boland in South Africa’s Western Cape and grew up dreaming of representing the Springboks.
But he has now given up on ever representing the Rainbow Nation after what he sees as unfair treatment from former South Africa head coach Allister Coetzee.
“I don’t even think about wearing the green and gold anymore because I never had an opportunity to do it,” Blommetjies added.
“Last year in Super Rugby I was playing the best rugby of my career and the coach Franco Smith told me I was good enough to become a Springbok at the end of the year.
“But Allister picked players ahead of me not because of how they played throughout the year, but because they were his favourites. Players like Elton Jantjies were selected because he knew them.
“After that I thought I’m not going to fight for the green and gold anymore, I want to go overseas and when my agent told me he had an offer from the Scarlets, I said yes immediately.”
The Cheetahs fullback will arrive in Llanelli in time for the start of next season and believes Wayne Pivac’s side will be the perfect fit for his attacking brand of rugby.
The South African will arrive in Wales before World Rugby raises its residency qualification period for international players from three to five years in 2020.
“Everything I am going to do at the Scarlets will be geared towards becoming a Wales international.”
Blommetjies’ next step is a move to Parc y Scarlets, but his career could have taken a very different path if he had listened to the advice of one South African sporting legend.
Prior to earning a contract with the Blue Bulls, Blommeties was on the verge of becoming a professional cricketer.
He said: “Since I was a young boy I was an all-round sportsman and played every sport I could.
“I played cricket, soccer, tennis, swimming and I was good at athletics. But I had to make the choice between cricket and rugby.
“I went on a cricket camp with Ray Jennings, but then I signed for the Bulls. I sacrificed cricket for rugby. After I signed with the Bulls, Ray rang me and wanted me to play cricket for him in Johannesburg. I had to break it to him I had chosen rugby and he got very angry with me.”
Blommetjies is not the first foreign import to cross over the Severn Bridge and declare a desire to play for Wales.
He won’t be the last either, though the talented back is likely to quickly fit into the scintillating attacking style which has seen the Scarlets impress in the last two seasons.
“One of the reasons I have joined the Scarlets is their brand of rugby. As a fullback whenever I receive the ball from deep, my first instinct is to counter-attack and not to kick like some other players,” Blommetjies said.
“I also want to win silverware and I think we can achieve that at the Scarlets. I’ve got a bit of pace, but what I love doing is creating for other players and putting them into space.
“I’m a huge fan of Leigh Halfpenny because we play in the same position. I’ve looked up to him for years and I can’t wait to play with him. Steffan Evans is also someone I rate very highly, he has amazing feet."
African News Agency (ANA)